NFL Preseason Odds, Picks, Predictions: Chiefs vs. Cardinals & Bengals vs. Washington (Aug. 20)
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes (right) high-fives Travis Kelce.
Patrick Mahomes in the preseason? No one told us that Christmas was coming early this year. As the Chiefs look to make a third consecutive trip to the Super Bowl, Andy Reid is preparing to let his starters air it out against the Cardinals — at least in the first half.
Over in Washington, a floundering Bengals offensive line will be squaring off with a nasty WFT defense that should make easy work of Cincinnati. That said, it’s still the preseason where anything can happen. Check out our analysts’ favorite bets for Friday’s NFL slate.
NFL Odds & Picks
Raheem Palmer: Football is about what happens in the trenches and the big mismatch here is Washington’s defensive line facing a Bengals offensive line that struggled to protect Joe Burrow last season.
Burrow won’t be playing in this game as he’s still recovering from his late-season knee injury, which means Cincinnati will be gong with Brandon Allen who played the entire first half last week. While the Bengals are loaded at the skill positions with rookie Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, how excited can you be about them if they struggle up front? With Chase Young and Montez Sweat on the other side of the field, this feels like a matchup WFT’s defense dominates.
The Bengals are missing cornerbacks Eli Apple, Ricardo Allen and Donnie Lewis in addition to defensive ends Khalid Kareem ad Joseph Ossai. Washington led 7-6 at the half against the New England Patriots last week and should have a better performance here against a worse Bengals defense.
To put their loss to New England in perspective, Washington out-gained the Patriots 367-320 in yardage, attaining more first downs (24-16) and lost. That won’t happen here. Look for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke to have solid performances on the way to a win and cover.
Editor’s note: The following bet was written before sportsbooks released first-half lines. Because the Chiefs sit between -3.5 and -4 to cover the first half as of 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday — well above the -2.5 threshold we were comfortable betting — we would no longer recommend this pick.
Brandon Anderson: There’s great news for bettors and for football fans tuning in to ESPN Friday night: Adam Schefter reports that Chiefs coach Andy Reid will play his starters for most or all of the first half. In case you’ve forgotten, that means Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and a revamped and revitalized offensive line.
Oh, and Patrick Mahomes.
The thing about the Cardinals is that they’re not the Chiefs. It also looks like we’ll get less from Arizona’s starters than from Kansas City. Kyler Murray played just a few snaps in the opener, and Kliff Kingsbury hasn’t been known to play his starters for long in the preseason. The latest reports make it look like the Cardinals’ starters may get a whole quarter this time, but that still leaves more time from the better Chiefs’ starters, and that sounds like trouble for Arizona.
The Chiefs defense is beatable, but Kingsbury and the Cardinals don’t have the sort of scheme to trouble Kansas City. It’s hard to get much more of a coaching mismatch than this. I wrote about coaches this week and ranked every staff, and this matchup pits one of the NFL’s top two staffs against one of its bottom two. Kingsbury’s offense is vanilla (even for preseason), and a sandlot Mahomes screwing around out there for a half is good enough to put up a few scoring drives.
It’s typically not a good idea to bet on Andy Reid in the preseason. Our Chris Raybon has pointed out the trend against Reid. That’s why we’re skipping the full game result in case things go awry with the starters out in the second half.
Preseason or not, I have to trust the team that’s been to the last two Super Bowls playing its starters for a half against an outmatched Cardinals squad. No first-half lines are available as of writing on Thursday evening (my editors will be sure to add them as soon as they’re available), but I’ll be looking to play the Chiefs to cover in the first half and let these teams figure it out themselves from there.